273 Interannual variability of tropical tropopause layer clouds

Wednesday, 9 July 2014
Sean M. Davis, NOAA/ESRL, Boulder, CO; and C. K. Liang and K. H. Rosenlof

The quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and upwelling in the tropical branch of the Brewer-Dobson circulation (BDC) impact tropical tropopause layer (TTL, 14-19 km) temperature (T) and relative humidity (RH), and thus it is likely that they also affect the TTL cloud distribution. Satellite data reveal extreme interannual variability in the zonal-mean TTL cloud occurrence frequency (CF) in the deep tropics (10°S – 10°N). This zonal-mean interannual variability is related to the QBO and BDC, with a relatively minor role for ENSO. However, over the whole tropics (30°S – 30°N), the dominant mode of variability in the longitudinally resolved CF field is an ENSO-related dipole pattern of positive and negative anomalies centered over the Pacific that mimics the RH/T fields. The ENSO effects largely cancel in the zonal-mean, although El Niño is weakly associated with enhanced zonal-mean cloudiness in the uppermost TTL over the short satellite record.
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